The current cycle of the ICC Men’s World Test Championship has produced some memorable results that nobody would have expected.
As the 2021-22 international Test cricket season comes to a close after South Africa’s 2-0 whitewash over Bangladesh, the ICC World Test Championship takes a month-long break.
The WTC23 cycle that began with India touring England has had no shortage of nail-biting action so far. Along the way, there have been some results that nobody would have predicted.
Before the next Test cricket season begins with Bangladesh hosting Sri Lanka, we take a look back at some of the biggest upsets so far in World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle.
Bangladesh beat New Zealand by eight wickets
The biggest upset in the WTC23 so far was Bangladesh’s triumph over New Zealand in the first Test of the two-match series in Bay Oval, Tauranga.
The sheer amount of records that Bangladesh broke, which include their first win against New Zealand in New Zealand in any format, their first Test win over New Zealand in their 16th attempt and their first Test win over a top-five ICC-ranked team away from home, show the magnitude of the victory.
Batting first, New Zealand scored 328, which was a respectable total. Bangladesh, though, took a massive lead of 130 runs, thanks for fifties from Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque and Liton Das.
The Black Caps managed to erase the deficit while losing just two wickets, but an inspired spell of fast bowling from Ebadot Hossain (6/70) reduced New Zealand to just 169, leaving the Tigers with a target of 40 to chase.
The Tigers chased the total down in 17 overs, sparking wild celebrations in the Bangladesh camp as they secured arguably their greatest win in Test cricket history.
West Indies beat Pakistan by one wicket
Kemar Roach has won West Indies many a game with the ball but against Pakistan in Kingston, he did it with the bat in hand.
Chasing 168 in the final innings, the hosts looked down and out at 114/7 when Roach walked in but a gritty innings from the speedster helped West Indies pull off a last-wicket heist.
Put in to bat first, Pakistan managed only 217. Fifties from Kraigg Brathwaite and Jason Holder helped West Indies to a slender yet important 36-run lead. Jayden Seales’ five-for restricted Pakistan to 203, setting West Indies a target of 168.
Pakistan pace trio of Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf threatened to take the game away from the hosts quickly. Windies were staring down the barrel as they went from 114/7 to 142/8 to 151/9.
Though wickets kept falling, Roach at one end was solid. Seales, who had already secured a five-for, now had to win the game with the bat along with Roach. Together, the No.9 and No.11 batters got West Indies across the line with a 17-run unbeaten partnership, securing a win that will be remembered for a long time.
"I have never been in a situation like that before, batting with the tail," said Kemar Roach after the game. "I am part of the tail, so for me it was to go out there and believe... that was the biggest thing, to believe and stay positive. And it worked, and I give thanks."
South Africa’s comeback against India
On paper, South Africa’s series win may not seem like an upset, given India have never beaten the Proteas away from home in the first place. But considering they came back from 1-0 down against the then No.1 Test team in the world was quite an achievement.
India took the first Test comfortably by 113 runs, with KL Rahul (123 in the first innings) and Mohammad Shami (5/44 and 3/63) starring for the visitors. India were on the verge of breaching the final frontier but South Africa fought back hard to preserve their record.
India set South Africa a target of 240 but the Proteas had more than two days to chase it down. Captain Dean Elgar stood tall with an unbeaten 96 in their chase. Keegan Petersen, playing just his fourth Test, made handy contributions as South Africa levelled the series with a seven-wicket win.
India were dealt a body blow ahead of the final Test, with skipper Virat Kohli missing out due to a back injury.
India managed a slender 13-run lead but were bowled out for 198, thanks to an unbeaten 100 from Rishabh Pant, setting South Africa a target of 210. Petersen followed up his 72 from the first innings with an 82 in the second to hold the chase together.
South Africa beat India by 7 wickets to complete the comeback series win, which turned out to be Kohli’s last as Test captain.
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